Text by: Charles J. Sanders, International Skiing History Association
Passing Date: Sunday, December 22, 2019
Jacques Parker, the internationally celebrated ski illustrator and a veteran of the US 10th Mountain Division died on December 22, 2019 at the age of 98. Parker scaled Italy’s Riva Ridge to help capture enemy positions in one of America’s most daring WWII battle engagements. Before he passed away, he completed the transfer of a substantial trove of his original ski artwork to the University of Denver. The collection resides as part of the institution’s permanent art collection.
Born in Monte Carlo, Monaco, Parker grew up skiing both in Europe and the eastern United States in the 1930s and went on to volunteer and serve with the U.S. mountain troops. As a newly minted, 25-year-old sergeant, he lead his machine gun squad in prayers at the base of Riva Ridge before ascending the steep, frozen slope in an improbable but successful nighttime and dawn assault on Nazi positions. The victory, on the morning of February 19, 1945, led directly to a string of engagements that enabled US troops to liberate the Po Valley just a few weeks later. Parker suffered grievous combat wounds during the campaign including a grenade concussion injury to his inner ear that hindered his ability to engage in high-level ski racing after the war.
Parker made a name for himself as a graphic artist specializing in ski subjects by expanding on his pencil drawings made in mountain combat during the war. “Ski Illustrated, the forerunner of SKI Magazine, was publishing in New York. When Parker came home from overseas, he recalled. “…I noticed on their masthead that they had no art director.” He Submitted a formal sketch and suggested to the editors how to update the appearance of the publication with a “certain look, design, typography and illustration.” The publisher Bill Eldred loved it and Parker became the magazine’s first, de facto art director. “I was a kid with little to no experience, but I had the confidence we all gained the hard way.”
Among the most widely known artistic accomplishments of his long career was the use of his iconic painting “Ski Tracks Through a Knothole” as the 60th Anniversary Cover of SKI Magazine. His more recent “Ski Trooper” poster remains a valuable fundraising tool for organizations, including the 10th Mountain Division Foundation.
Honoring our veterans and soldiers
Vintage ski World remembers and honors veterans from the WWII 10th Mountain Division and their descendants. Additionally, we are grateful for the service of the existing 10th Mountain Division soldiers. Vintage Ski World carries a wide variety of Tenth Mountain memorabilia including beer and coffee mugs, pins, patches, magnets and more. Please visit 10th Mountain Division.